Jacques Hébert 1793

The Great Preparations of Père Duchesne

Source: Père Duchesne, No. 274;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2004.

The great preparations of Père Duchesne to have all republicans march en masse against the slaves of despots. His great joy at sticking in front of the cannon’s mouth all the midgets of the boutiques, all the little priests and all the good-for-nothings in their knickers. His great discovery of a new plot to save the traitor Brissot, and his great anger with certain two-faced buggers who want to marry the daughter of Louis the Traitor with one of the sons of the King of England.

Finally we're rising up en masse to hunt the fucking bear of the north that’s ravaging our frontiers and to make all the crowned brigands dance the carmagnole. I gave this good advice a long time ago to the Sans Culottes, and if we'd followed it Mainz, Condé and Valenciennes would still be ours, and the traitor Custine would have been forced to march when seeing himself caught between two fires. But it’s not enough to rise up: the final blows must be delivered, and in two weeks assure our liberty by crushing under our thumbs all of the despots. Dammit, it’s impossible that five or six million men shouldn’t be able to bring down these hordes of slaves who never would have been able to set foot on the territory of the republic if we hadn’t been betrayed by the scoundrels who commanded our armies up till now. Yes, dammit, if a million men would serve as reinforcements for the army of the North, then soon Mainz, Condé, and Valenciennes will be returned to us; and soon our troops will again take Belgium and Holland, not to make free those Flemish oafs who prefer their reliquaries and their wooden saints to freedom, but to make them pay restitution for the provisions that the wretched Dumouriez abandoned to them; not to unite Holland to France, but to make the monopolists of Amsterdam pay the costs of the war, and to make them exchange all our assignats against tons of gold.

At the same time, dammit, another million republicans have to hurry to the south and descend on the filthy Spaniards, that they be chased to Madrid, and that they bring Capet’s cousin back to Paris, tied hand and foot in order to make them pay. But above all, the soldiers of freedom should sweep away in passing all the sacristies, all the church benches in Spain and Italy, and they should bring back to us all the gold of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette and St- Jacques-en-Galice in order to make money minted by the republic.

And during this expedition let 100,000 determined buggers descend upon England! No fort, no army can stop them. Upon entering that island let a proclamation be made to the English people offering them peace or death, and let us speak to them more or less in these terms: “ Englishmen, you who were the first to want to be free but who didn’t have the courage to persevere; you who after breaking your chains forged new ones; you who after chasing out and shortening your kings couldn’t do without a king; you who never knew equality, proud and courageous people, reclaim your rights. The French have come to offer you their assistance against tyrants; let the two most enlightened nations of Europe — the only ones worthy of freedom — cease tearing each other apart! Let them be forever united in making reason and justice triumph! What an infamy for England to be governed by someone who has escaped from the lunatic asylum. Englishmen! Send to the scaffold this Pitt who has set ablaze the four corners of Europe and who ruins you in order to destroy France: he won’t succeed, dammit! All of his shrewdness is as transparent as can be. We know him, we know that he wants to destroy our republic in order to marry one of the sons of King George Looney to the daughter of Louis the Traitor. We know that statesmen cooked up this marriage in order to reign in the name of this worthy couple. We know that several two-faced Montagnards, who up till now cajoled the Sans-Culottes in order to later — when they'll be gorged on gold and lifted to the heights — turn their coats, will propose this alliance.

If it weren’t for the fact that there was something fishy going on, would we have waited so long to guillotine Brissot and the other bastards who, like him, set off a civil war and had their palms greased by your minister in order to confuse things here? Englishmen, Frenchmen: be as one now! Ally yourselves, not under the same masters, but by ties of fraternity. The French have sworn to live free or die, and they'll keep this vow, dammit! Englishmen, what do you have to gain in fighting us? You only serve the cause of the tyrants. If it were possible for them to gain the upper hand you would be the first victims, and you wouldn’t even have left to you the mere shadow of freedom that you've preserved.

After this declaration backed up by cannons and bombs I have no doubt, dammit, that the English will change tack and join us. These are some worthwhile projects for a furnace merchant, but how can they be executed? How can we have millions of men march at the same time? How can they be armed, provisioned? How the hell? Nothing is impossible for free men. Before anything, it’s necessary to assure ourselves of all the subsistence of the republic; to form public warehouses in all the departments; to cook biscuits in order to feed the armies during their marches. It’s necessary to put under requisition all workers in metals, from the blacksmith to the goldsmith, establish forges in all public squares and night and day fabricate cannons, rifles, sabers and bayonets.

What would you do, you old fool, with all those who are suspect? If we take them with us, when they're in the presence of the enemy they'll burn our asses in order to join the other side, and they'll use against us the arms we'll have confided to them. I say that we must purge France of all traitors, establish tribunals in all public squares in order to judge the scoundrels who conspired against their fatherland, and that the public razor deliver us from all the rascals, from all traitors. And then we'll make march before us these vile egotists who, during the revolution, were neither fish nor fowl; we'll make them carry our baggage; we'll put before the cannon’s mouth all the monopolists, the financiers, the lawyers, the priests and all the buggers who have only lived till now for public unhappiness. We'll be gentle with the fathers of families, and as much as we can we'll leave them in the reserve quarters.

There, dammit, is what I propose and what will save France if we carry this out to the letter. But, again, let’s not set out like madmen without having prepared everything, without having arms, provisions and munitions. We have to especially be sure not to leave behind us any enemies of freedom for, in our absence, our property will be pillaged, our wives slaughtered, and counter-revolution so well plotted that we could no longer prevent it. Already, all the good-for-nothings of the Palais Royale are laughing up their sleeves about our departure. Go, Sans Culottes, they say, bon voyage. Say, if you like, that he who loves me should follow me; we who don’t love you will turn our backs on you. We'll hide ourselves during recruitment and we'll come out of our cellars when you'll have left in order to burn your homes. When the faubourg St-Antoine no longer exists we'll be able to cry out at leisure: Vive Louis XVI, and do in Paris what our comrades , the muscadins, did in Lyons. Knicker-wearers, midgets of the boutiques, little clerics, you're underestimating your host. We have our eyes on you. Cowardly bandits, expect to receive a beating; you won’t escape us, dammit.